2014-15 Board Election Statements

Sunday, November 17, 2013 4:40 PM | Jigar Mehta

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Note: You must be a SAJA member to vote. By voting online, you are submitting a proxy ballot. In person voting will occur at the annual members meeting December 5 in NYC. Click here to become a SAJA member.

Candidates for SAJA Board 2014-2015

SOVY AZHATH

I’m Sovy Azhath and I'm a CNN HLN Producer/Writer. I’m asking for your vote once again as I’m looking to serve my third term on the board. Throughout my four years on the SAJA board, I felt like I matured from a freshman to a senior. I moved up the ladder year by year on the board: 2010 as events coordinator; 2011 as Secretary & Job Fair Coordinator; 2012 as VP; to finally this year as SAJA’s President.

My passion for SAJA is to get more of our members connected to the major media companies and help their job growth. Our exclusive behind the scenes newsroom tours that I’ve hosted as caught a lot of buzz and popularity. We’ve got the chance to visit major stations like CNN, CBS News, and ABC News to name a few. If re-elected, I would like to continue to host more of these newsroom tours and even add more companies to the mix.

I’ve also hosted numerous SAJA events (mixers, panels, workshops, mentoring sessions) not only at our hub in NYC but also in Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. With your vote, I would like to continue to host/coordinate more of these events in other cities to help brand the SAJA mission. 

I’m proud to represent SAJA in the public eye to journalists and non-journalists alike. Last year, I had the esteem pleasure to serve as a SAJA reporter at the United Nations. There I had an exclusive one-on-one interview with Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai about her message as the UN AIDS spokesperson on the impact of the AIDS relief effort in India.

This year, the gala committee and I helped made the awards gala one of the best in SAJA's history. We had a star-studded lineup: Emmy Award winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi, and even Miss America Nina Davuluri made a special appearance. I’m looking forward to continue this momentum and buzz for next year’s 20th anniversary planning.

I hope you can elect me to the board again so I can continue to serve you – the members.

ANUP KAPHLE

My name is Anup Kaphle and I would like to run for the SAJA board for the 2014-15 term. 

I joined SAJA as a student volunteer in 2006, blogging during the annual convention for SAJAForum. Through the years, I won a SAJA scholarship, then a SAJA Reporting Fellowship, and then came back as a panelist during one of the conventions to talk about reporting on conflicts. I have enjoyed my last two years on the SAJA board, helping run some of our programs that are key to the success of SAJA.

I will hope to work on two key things, should I get elected to the board again. First, I plan to focus on revamping our reporting fellowship program, making it available for applicants throughout the year, by working with other board members and changing the current application entry system. I would like to reach out to news organizations and help increase the pool of applicants for the fellowship, allowing us to fund projects that have an impact. Second, I will streamline the SAJA Awards process, developing a new system for journalists to enter for the competition, increasing pool of quality applicants by opening for entries earlier and working with judges at several levels, and highlighting the winners' work through a multimedia presentation at the awards dinner.

Separately, I would like to continue to be a resource for students members of SAJA and help engage and organize programs for our members in Washington, D.C. next year.

SAJA has given a lot to me and I would love the opportunity to give back by helping make some of SAJA key programs successful next year.


JOHN LAXMI

Dear members:

Please vote for me as one of your representatives on SAJA’s board. I have served on the board of SAJA since 2001, initially as secretary and later as treasurer. I believe that my participation in the board will assure SAJA of valuable experience and continuity.  In voting for me, you will be endorsing focus, dedication, discipline and compliance.

FOCUS: SAJA has become well-known and provides a wide range of services to members and the broader community.  As SAJA’s programs grow, so do demands and pressures on the organization’s capacity and resources, requiring triage, prioritization and focus on the organization’s core mission. I believe I have contributed to sharpening SAJA’s focus on core scholarship, educational and training programs.

DEDICATION: SAJA depends on each of us to devote consistently to its programs. Over the past twelve years, I have had the privilege of participating in SAJA’s activities in many different ways, despite the growing demands on my time from my main business. 

DISCIPLINE: While many non-profit and journalism groups have suffered severe financial setbacks in recent years, SAJA’s financial reserves and donor base have steadily grown, with debt remaining at zero. This gives SAJA a strong outlook for maintaining its educational and outreach programs. As treasurer, I believe I have contributed to SAJA’s financial stability and discipline.

COMPLIANCE:  For nearly a decade, SAJA has entrusted to me important record-keeping and reporting obligations to members and governmental authorities. These responsibilities have been fulfilled consistently and accurately. 

Working with you, volunteers and other board members, I will continue to help in fundraising, membership drives, general governance and financial management.  I will be a champion of quality, excellence and controlled growth.  If you have any questions, please contact me at johnlaxmisaja@gmail.com. Thanks. 


RENEE LOBO

As a Broadcast Journalist for over 20 years, I have been the voice of South Asians in the tri state area and have highlighted topics and issues that have been pertinent to their interests, including politics, healthcare, safety & communal harmony, domestic violence and racial profiling. My signature show- Renee Report has showcased diverse interviews:  from the unsung heroes that have enriched our lives to renowned musicians, artists, philosophers, authors, doctors, entrepreneurs to the crowd stopping celebrities of Bollywood.  Through the years I have fostered and built positive working relationships with media partners, community leaders, community and civic organizations and politicians and have received many awards from appreciative immigrant and social justice partners. 

I hold an undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism form SUNY, Old Westbury, Long Island and a graduate degree in Political Management from the George Washington University. My mission is to expand women’s voices and frame new dialogues on critical political, cultural and economic developments in our communities. I feel with our collaborative efforts and synergy, we can discover new areas of growth and innovation that will take SAJA to the next level in the coming years.    


HEMA PARMAR

I first heard about SAJA several years ago as an undergraduate student. Through it, I attended the annual convention in New York, expanded my industry network and was given a mentor as part of SAJA’s mentorship program. SAJA fueled my inspiration to be a journalist. In the years that followed I would attend speaker events and meet other young reporters. I became aware of the large SAJA community that extends across North America. My mentor kept encouraging me to apply to Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. When the time was right I did. I was thrilled to have been accepted.

I’d love to now give back to SAJA: to help organize events, engage with the community, spur new ideas and share my enthusiasm with the team. I’ve gathered several years of industry experience under my belt – from covering energy policy on Capitol Hill to producing television in Western Canada. I now work for Bloomberg TV in New York City. 

I would be honored to serve SAJA as one of its board members.


MYTHILI RAO

As a public radio news producer and book critic, I have SAJA to thank for my career in journalism.

I joined the organization as a grad student.  A few days after leaving my resume at CNN's table at the first SAJA career fair I attended, I got a call from CNN's assignment desk. That call lead to a freelance position at CNN, and eventually, to a full-time job.

I now work at WNYC as a producer on The Takeaway, a radio news analysis program produced in coordination with Public Radio International, The New York Times, and WGBH in Boston airing daily on NPR-affiliate stations around the country.  I also write book reviews-- most often for The Daily Beast, but also for The New York Times Book Review, Newsweek, Words Without Borders, Publishers Weekly and others.

If elected to the board, I’d challenge myself and fellow board members to find creative new ways to help SAJA foster a spirit of community and professional development for South Asian journalists at all stages of their careers.

SAJA’s skill-building and mentorship sessions, scholarship/grant opportunities, networking events, and cultural programming have long made it a tremendous resource for journalists.  As a member of the board, I’d work hard to maintain these strong programs while expanding SAJA’s digital presence and industry-wide profile.  In a dynamic field, an organization like ours has to keep growing and changing to stay relevant-- which is exactly what I’d focus on doing if elected.

SAJA has given me a lot. I’m running for a seat on the board because I’d like to give back.

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